Today’s interview is with Kim Thompson (who writes as K.R Thompson – don’t worry, I’m not spilling any secrets 🙂 ). After starting to write as an escape, Kim discovered a passion for writing that has continued through multiple novels, novella and other stories. Kim’s advice is the perfect blueprint for a starting author who is unsure how to move forward in their writing career.
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview. To start with, can you tell us a bit about yourself, and how you got started writing?
Thanks so much for having me, Jason!
Okay, so my name is Kim Thompson and I write under the pen name K.R. Thompson. I began writing about five years ago, and I’ve been a published indie author for the last two.
What began my writing career was my love for the escape you find in books. Five years ago, I suffered a miscarriage and needed that escape. I’d always known books can take you to another time and place, so they were the first place I turned to. (I’ve been in love with books since I was little, carting around a stack of Nancy Drew mysteries.)
Until then, I’d always found my escape in other people’s worlds, but this time I knew I needed something of my own, so I sat down and wrote my own story. It took me a year to write Hidden Moon and the further I went, I discovered writing was so much more than escape. Worlds take shape and characters come alive when you write. Sure, you’ll find escape—but it will be something more.
Four novels later, I’m still writing. But now, I’m doing it because I love it!
Writing is certainly an addictive activity! Do you have any sort of system or structure for recording story ideas when they come to you?
Ideas generally come to me while I’m driving—or while I’m trying to sleep. The sleeping aspect isn’t terribly hard to record, as I have a pen and paper beside the bed to jot things down on. Driving? That’s a different story. My husband bought me a voice recorder, and I’ve been trying to remember to use it, but I find myself chanting the idea over and over until I can get to the place to pull the car over and write it down.
How do you go about the actual process of writing?
All of my writing happens at night. I work during the day and I have a family once I get home, so my characters have to take a back seat until everyone goes to sleep. I think about my storyline and plot during the day, but nothing gets put down until after 9PM. It typically takes me an hour to find my muse and block out the world. Then, I curl up on the sofa with my laptop and disappear into my writing.
Do you only work on one story at a time, or do you prefer to work on multiple stories at once?
I’ve tried it both ways and what I’ve found works best for me is to concentrate fully on one story at a time. I have characters zinging around my head all the time, but if I work on only one book, I do much better. Otherwise, characters from one story try to mesh in with the characters from another. It doesn’t work well for me, but I’ve heard other authors say that it works for them in times of writer’s block.
Do you have a word count in mind when you start working on a story, or do you let it be what it will be?
Generally, I have an idea of how long I want the story to be when I begin, but I’ve found word count doesn’t mean much as long as the story is told as it should be. I’ve written short stories that morphed into novellas and novels. The vice-versa is also true. I’ve planned a story to be full-length, that ends up much shorter than planned.
Capture your reader’s imagination so that they “see” your story and become fully vested in your characters. They aren’t going to worry about your word count. What they are going to remember is the adventure you took them on.
I definitely have to agree with you there! Switching gears now, marketing your books is an important part of being a successful author. Did you originally sit down and try to map out a marketing plan for your books, or did it more develop organically over time?
With my first book, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t know any other authors, had no contacts, or any plan to speak of. I’d written a book and thought the hard part was over. It didn’t take long to realize the work had just begun. Now, I have list a mile long for marketing before my book is even released.
In broad terms you can break book marketing down into three stages – promotion of a new book before it’s launch, promotion of a book at its launch, and ongoing promotion of your book after release. Do you tend to focus on just one or two of these areas, or do you work on all areas fairly evenly?
I focus on all three areas equally. Well before launch, I release book teasers through social media as well as inform readers through my newsletter of the upcoming release. Upon launch, I sign up for at least one blog tour (sometimes two), and do paid advertisement through various channels. Then, for ongoing promotion, I do paid ads on various sites in hopes of gaining new readers.
That sounds very comprehensive! 🙂 You mentioned not knowing any other authors above. How important do you find relationships with other authors is when it comes to book promotion?
Relationships with other authors is important. Every person has had different experiences with their writing career and if you listen, you might discover more of what has/hasn’t worked for them with their own books.
You mentioned your newsletter. What (and how often) do you send something to them so they remain interested in staying subscribed and listening to what you have to say? Do you think a mailing list can work for an author who only releases one book every 1-2 years?
I typically send out a newsletter once a month, detailing any new releases or book signings that I’ll be attending. I rarely…rarely…ever send out anything more than once a month.(A few times, my newsletter has skipped a month or two if I am between releases.) I’ve promised never to spam my readers, and I never will. That said, you still need to have something to keep your readers interested. You can offer special “sneak peeks” such as exclusive excerpts or have a “sale” on one of your backlisted books to keep your audience engaged and ready when your next book hits the market.
Speaking of backlist books, how do you encourage or lead readers to read your backlist if they come in to your books with your latest release?
I typically put an excerpt of another story in the back of each book, as well as a list of my other works.
Which social media site have you found to be the most effective in connecting with your readers? Which has been the least effective?
Facebook, for me, is the best. I’ve found I connect with people the most there. Twitter, not so much. I have a terrible time writing in broken sentences and hashtags.
I know what you mean – I struggle with it too (as anyone who follows Polgarus Studio on Twitter can see 🙂 ) Do you do much tracking of your marketing efforts, to see what’s working for you and what isn’t? If so, how?
I track everything—especially when it comes to paid advertisement. When I’m using a new company, I schedule their ad on a certain day for a certain book, then watch my author dashboards to see if/how many sales or spikes that occurred on that day.
What is the most common mistake you see other authors making when promoting their book?
I believe the most common mistake is trying to market a single book. It can be done, but not easily. You have to remember that while it took you months or years to write that book, the reader won’t be taking nearly as long to read it. Once they are done, what else of yours are they going to read? If you don’t have more books, they’ll move on to someone else. Use the time you want to spend marketing your first book to write your second one. Marketing can seriously cut into your writing time. Use your time wisely.
What method(s) do you use to encourage people to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, blog, your mailing list, etc?
When I am at a book signing, I usually encourage those who buy my book to follow me on Facebook and ask if they’d like to sign up for my newsletter.
For my ebooks and online presence, I’ve started adding links in the back of my books for people to follow me.
Has there been any memorable moments of interacting with readers that has made it all worthwhile for you?
There has been several moments over the last two years that have touched me. One, was a twelve year-old girl in Florida who chose my first book as her project for her school’s book fair. She sent me a picture, clutching my book to her as she stood in front of her display.
Then, most recently, one reader sent me a message on Facebook to tell me her mother was in the hospital, dying, and that she took one of my books to read to her while she sat with her in her final days.
When you first start writing, you never realize how far your stories will reach and the lives of the people you will touch. This journey may have started as something I did for myself, but now it’s gone to something so much more than that. Now I write for my readers.
If you could travel back in time and speak to your young self just before you were about to write your first book, what piece of advice would you give them so that they would be further ahead now than you currently are?
Don’t stop to market that first book, write the next one! 🙂
That is the big secret, isn’t it 🙂 Thank you very much for your time, Kim. I appreciate it!
K.R. Thompson writes paranormal stories with a bite and fairytales with a twist. An avid reader and firm believer in the magic of books, she spends her nights either reading an adventure or writing one.
She still watches for evidence of Bigfoot in the mud of Wolf Creek.
She can be found on her website: